A compact SFF build for a small apartment where everything is on display...
Ncase design really hit a home run with this case - the fit and finish is superb and the layout is perfect.This really let me build a system that slipped under the radar whilst still hiding the full geek out inside!
How we got here:
This parts list is final but the project originally started with an air cooled CPU using Noctua's NH-D9L mini twin tower and an NZXT Kraxen X31 AIO with G10 bracket for the GPU. As all current Nvidia GTX series GPU's overclock the same under adequate cooling, the cheapest founders edition was used. This setup was both quiet and cool with minimal noise. However, it was ugly inside with the stock PSU cables making a mess and the X31 tubing tilting the GPU on a strange angle.
I decided at this stage that a custom loop was the only way to solve the internal fitment issues so I went all out and rebuilt. My ultimate aim was a bottom radiator build with a custom loop - something for me to admire with the side panels off whilst remaining living room friendly.
Water cooling the M1:
Initially I started out with an EKWB Coolstream SE 240 radiator and a EKWB SPC-60 pump. The pump is extremely quiet and highly recommended for a simple loop. In the M1 the tight fittings and 90 degree bends means it slightly lacks power*. The EKWB radiator was a mess - too dense, poorly made, misaligned ports, bent fins and slightly too long to comfortably fit into the bottom of the M1. To fit this on the bottom of the case, the front I/O connectors were cut shaved down to fit the bottom radiator and the mounting screws cut down to 2.5mm.
*(I absolutely would use this again however. It's a very minor complaint)
Unfortunately, temps for both CPU and GPU were worse than the air/AIO setup. This was due to the high radiator density and low pressure provided by the slim Silverstone FW121 fans.
The radiator was swapped out for a much freer breathing Hardware Lab 240 GTS and a 92mm radiator added to enable the use of lower fan speeds. I cut out the bottom radiator shroud so the slim fans sit within the shroud right on top of the fins. This gives the fans more breathing room under the GPU. The fans are a simple friction fit - they need to be levered out. Both Hardware Labs radiators are great - straight edges, nicely aligned ports and the fins were all perfect.
The bottom of the case was also cut out and fan grills used to protect the radiator during handling and transport. Taller case feet are used to give the radiator more breathing room and to help reduce fan speed. Previous to this, the lower fans needed to be run on max (2064 rpm) to notice any airflow at all - now at 840 rpm there is a noticeable breeze coming from the bottom.
A swapped in an EKWB DDC elite pump because it has the included heatsink which is a must have for the DDC series. The old SPC-60 pump is quieter but unfortunately there are limited reservoir options. A bitspower Z-tube was used because their construction quality is great and the acrylic matches the rest of the case. This moves all the water cooling parts inside for a cleaner look.
The Cablemod cables were still too long so these were shortened one by one along with the case power cable extension. My initial ordered lengths were: 24 Pin - 250mm 4+4 EPS - 400mm 6+2 PCIE - 250mm SATA - 150mm
Performance and settings:
I can't stress enough that having 2 radiators is essential for a bottom radiator build. With these in place, the CPU is overclocked to 4.5Ghz and the GPU to 2126MHz / Memory 4594MHz. This runs comfortably at around 60/55 degrees on the CPU/GPU at around 50% fan speed. The CPU is delidded and runs with EKWB Indigo XS which is nerve wracking to install but works great.
My only regret for this build is that I wish the cables were neater. If I have time in future I will re-do these.